Skip to main content

How to Become a Director of Diversity and Inclusion

June 1, 2021

Achievement gaps, implicit biases, school bullying: educators from diverse backgrounds offer unique perspectives and ideas on these issues that help school systems address challenges to meeting all students’ needs. Directors of diversity and inclusion increasingly play a key role in promoting educational equity.

How Directors of Diversity and Inclusion Make an Impact

Schools need diversity and inclusion experts who focus on developing programs that recruit educators from all backgrounds. Directors of diversity and inclusion can set up policies and practices that help attract and retain diverse educators, and make sure they are included in leadership and decision making.

Research shows that diverse workforces tend to be more creative and innovative. In education, diverse workforces help develop culturally relevant curriculums for the nation’s increasingly diverse student population. They also serve as important role models, particularly for students from marginalized communities.

Students from marginalized communities can benefit in significant ways from having teachers who share their backgrounds. For example, a study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research found that when Black children have even one Black teacher during their elementary school years, they also have:

  • Improved attendance
  • Decreased chronic absenteeism
  • Fewer suspensions
  • Higher rates of college enrollment

Increasing Demand for Directors of Diversity and Inclusion

The demand for directors of diversity and inclusion comes amid a growing national awareness of social inequities.

Nationwide protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in 2020 and similar tragedies have brought more attention to racial injustices and inequities. In response, many organizations have committed to fighting for equality. To this end, corporations, nonprofits, and school systems across the country are hiring directors of diversity and inclusion to help promote equity outside and inside their workplace.

Additionally, the #MeToo movement has pushed the nation into a moral reckoning regarding the treatment of women. With reports such as the Global Gender Report 2020 indicating that women may not experience gender parity for another 99.5 years, many feel the need to spring into action.

Responsibilities of a Director of Diversity and Inclusion

Directors of diversity and inclusion have vital responsibilities related to promoting diversity in education.

To start, they measure and track their organizations’ diversity. This involves data collection and analysis. Such analysis then guides initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion. Tools such as employee demographic information and teacher surveys can offer an understanding of where gaps in diversity exist and to what extent educators feel included in decision making.

Using this data, directors of diversity and inclusion develop initiatives that:

  • Increase diversity
  • Support specific groups within schools and administrative offices
  • Cultivate a work culture that values diversity

Partnering with Outside Organizations

A director of diversity and inclusion might partner with an antihate organization like the Anti-Defamation League. They collaborate to implement programs such as No Place for Hate, which helps school communities create more inclusive and equitable environments.

Serving as a Resource on Diversity and Inclusion Issues

Directors of diversity and inclusion serve as coaches and resources to educators on diversity and inclusion issues. They share insights about topics such as the barriers educators of color face in attaining leadership positions. They advise about methods for recruiting teachers of color. Directors of diversity and inclusion also create practices that foster diverse voices and opinions.

Educating School Communities About Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion directors create initiatives that seek to educate school communities. These initiatives teach actionable steps that can bring about behaviors and practices that serve to support diversity and inclusion.

For example, diversity and inclusion directors may train principals on strategies that support and encourage teachers from marginalized communities. Or, they may create programs that teach educators how to organize peer networks that help address feelings of isolation among teachers of color.

Educational Requirements for a Director of Diversity and Inclusion

The field of diversity and inclusion is relatively new. The professionals entering it come from a range of backgrounds, including communications and human resources.

An advanced degree in education policy and leadership can equip a director of diversity and inclusion with the skills to impact policies and strategies. Students also develop critical knowledge that can facilitate careful analysis of hiring practices and policies that impact equity and inclusion. Additionally, education leadership degrees prepare directors of diversity and inclusion to create equity frameworks. These are standards that lay out ways to monitor and promote a diverse education workforce and give voice and value to educators from all backgrounds.

Job Outlook and Salary for a Director of Diversity and Inclusion

The job outlook for directors of diversity and inclusion looks promising. The number of positions jumped an astounding 56.3 percent on the job website Indeed between September 2019 and September 2020. Even more impressive, despite the economic decline brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, diversity and inclusion job postings rose 123 percent between May 2020 and September 2020.

These numbers speak to the invaluable role directors of diversity and inclusion play in building innovative, successful schools and organizations. Salaries reflect this recognition. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, directors of diversity and inclusion had a median annual salary of $113,350 in 2019, with top earners bringing in more than $196,070.

Support Equality Through a Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

To achieve education equity and social justice, schools must address the glaring need for a diverse workforce. Directors of diversity and inclusion play a vital role in this effort.

Learn more about how American University’s online Master of Education in Education Policy and Leadership prepares educators to develop policies and programs that promote diversity and inclusion.